Ballpoint pens may be common drawing tools but the highly detailed drawings of Mark Powell on antique paper are certainly out of the ordinary. We asked the London-based artist to tell us more about his artworks, so if your're curious, read on to take a look at some of his drawings and find out more about them!
While making amazing and detailed drawings using ballpoint pens is certainly not surprising anymore, once in a while, we find works of ballpoint pen art that are so impressive we can’t help but be fascinated. The works of London-based artist Mark Powell are examples of such beautiful ballpoint pen masterpieces, unique and interesting not only for the almost hyperrealistic level of detail, but also for his chosen canvas: antique letters, envelopes, newspapers, documents, and other sheets of paper rendered old and fragile by time. Of course, we wanted to know more about Mark Powell and his art, so we got in touch with him for a quick chat.
Can you tell us something about yourself and what you do?
I studied fine art at Huddersfield University where I enrolled purely by accident one day. I was staying in the town one day day and failed to get back to Leeds to work and so they fired me. I decided to look around the art studios and started talking to the head tutor and before i knew it I was signing enrolment papers. I draw with a bic biro ballpoint pen on antique envelopes, newspapers and documents dating from 1813.
When did you start making beautifully detailed drawings on antique paper?
I first started drawing this way about 2 years ago, though being a painter, I would also sketch in biro when planning a drawing.
Is there any special or particular reason why you chose antique paper as the canvas for your art? Do you think the aged paper adds something to your drawings?
The paper I use has a history and a story which can be seen in the details, scars and age of it much like the faces I choose. They both hint at something more.
Do you remember or do you still have the first drawing you did on antique paper? Can you describe it or show it to us, and provide some insights about it?
The first drawing I did was on an envelope that was sent from the front line of World War I. It struck me how this was possibly the last thing ever written by the solider in the trench before going over the top. As it was likely he never returned, I decided to draw an old man who had lived a life.
We’re curious about your creative process – how do you choose or come up with a subject to draw in order to “match” with whatever antique paper you have at hand?
I have a large collection of antique paper and after I have chosen an image to draw I will simply know which paper to use. It usually has to have the right positioning and if the paper has text, the person’s face will have to match my idea of what that text represents.
We’re also curious, who are these people in your drawings? Were they chosen in relation to how old the papers are?
I generally use people who I have photographed though I do get sent a lot of images that people would like to see drawn.
What do you consider to be the most challenging aspects of your work? What about the most rewarding?
When using a biro pen you simply can not make a mistake; otherwise, the entire drawing is ruined. Each paper I use use is different from the last so I will have to change my drawing style to get the desired effect too.
Among all of the pieces you’ve done so far, do you have a favorite one? Does it have an interesting story behind it?
After finishing each drawing I have an overpowering desire to start another because I feel I can do better. So, no favorite one just yet.
Lastly, do you have any upcoming exhibits or shows where we can catch you and your work?
I have a few shows coming up, The Other Art Fair and The Ben Oakley Gallery in April and May with more London shows coming in the summer and conversations with galleries in Holland and America for the future. I am also showing with The Curious Duke Gallery at the moment and I will be doing the Affordable Art Fair with them this April.
Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to tell us more about you and your amazing drawings on antique paper!